Metal works factory that was at 11 Willow Lane, Mitcham, Surrey,
CR4 4NA, from the mid-1950s, to possibly 1993.
The factory contributed to the production of the Exocet missiles. From Flight International magazine, 10th August 1972, page 216a:
Exocet consists of six functional units: the homing head, front equipment compartment, warhead, sustainer motor, boost motor and rear equipment case. Four equi-distant wings on the sustainer-motor casing give aerodynamic lift and stability;
four fins mounted on the rear equipment casing in the same planes as the wings are powered for pitch, roll and yaw control.
One of the major British sub-contractors is Morfax Ltd of Mitcham, Surrey. The company began talks with Aerospatiale in the first half of 1971, getting down to detailed planning following the inter-Governmental agreement in June of that year. Many of the items which are now the responsibility of Morfax were built on a pre-production basis by Aerospatiale,
although production parts will entirely be the responsibility of the British firm.
A lull between prototype fabrication and full production, while Aerospatiale and French test inspectors check that units built by Morfax conform to specification requirements, is
allowing the Mitcham concern to finalise its arrangements for a full-scale assembly line.
Many of the machine tools to be used have been developed specially by Morfax for the Exocet programme. Typical of these is a four-headed, seven-axis unit which performs the complete machining operations on the launching ramp. The company’s interest in the weapon is comprehensive, making as it does parts for both the missile and its launcher.
Missile work includes aluminium alloy castings for the front and rear equipment cases, the main machined forging for the front ring and the rocket motor venturi tube, as well as
a wide range of other parts. Of the ten sections of mechanical items pro-
duced in Britain, nine are manufactured by Morfax and the remaining
one by the Manchester Royal Ordnance Factory.
The largest of the major units being produced by Morfax is the launching
ramp, for which the company not only constructs the complex main beam
assembly but also parts for the locking box and missile suspension. In addition to holding sub-contracts from Aerospatiale, the firm has agreements with SFENA (Societe Frangaise d’
Equipements pour la Navigation Aerienne) under which it manufactures very-high-precision mechanical parts for the missile’s gyro.
Other Newspaper Articles and Ads
An ad in Norwood News – Friday 8 July 1955 refers to the ‘new factory’:
TOOLROOM PERSONNEL, night or day shift, millers, turners, detail fitters, etc.: high rates, new factory, excellent conditions.
— Morfax, Willow-lane. Mit. 4525
Norwood News – Friday 14 April 1961
Birmingham Daily Post – Tuesday 28 September 1976 reporting on the Subcontractors’ Expo ‘SUBCON’
HOW TO HANDLE A BOMB . .
An unusual exhibit at Subcon is the Morfax Wheelbarrow Mark VII a remote controlled vehicle for bomb disposal and security.
The need for a remote handling vehicle for the investigation, removal and neutralisation of potentially lethal explosive devices has become more apparent over the past few years, during which there has been a marked increase in terrorist activity directed against both military and civilian targets.
In 3 1/2 years the Wheelbarrow has already proved itself in this role during its service with the British Army and has revolutionised methods of handling suspicious objects. Urban terrorist warfare is now a world-wide problem and overseas defence agencies have shown considerable interest in this entirely British equipment.
So far, more than 200 wheelbarrows are in use and 5,000 bombs have been dealt with, saving many lives.
The wheelbarrow is part of the exhibit on the Morfax stand at SUBCON 76
From the Liverpool Echo – Friday 26 November 1993
DEFENCE equipment group Alvis is to buy a firm which makes bomb disposal robots in a deal worth an initial £600,000. The purchase of Morfax, which makes the so-called Wheelbarrow robots, comes after Alvis in conjunction with Racal won the contract for robot updates. Alvis, which already supplies the devices, will pay an additional £1.4m if sales targets are beaten.
The factory was probably built in the early part of the 1950s, and expanded thereafter.
From the Merton Council Planning website, this is a summary of some of the many planning applications, most of which do not have a reliable date, although some do have a date showing when permission was granted.
MIT1625 – office and combined garage and workshop for building contractors
MIT1874 – use of land as building contractors yard and erection of workshop, stores and offices
MIT1834(O) – Office and Factory for general engineering
MIT1931 – factory for general purposes
MIT1932 – liquid oxygen supply store
MIT2020 – extension to factory
MIT2064 – power house, stores and additional WC’s
MIT2839 – workshop for a limited period (granted permission 19/07/1956)
MIT2899 – building to house press, bending rails and forge
MIT2776 – extension to factory and retention of drawing office
MIT2946 – covered loading area (granted permission 20/12/1956)
MIT3519 – motor cycle shed (granted permission 29/01/1959)
MIT3566 – office block, works canteen and lavatories
MIT3589 – transformer chamber
MIT3420A – press and profile shop
MIT3619 – extension to heavy crane bay
MIT3646 – extension to heavy crane bay, oxygen store and tensile testing bay
MIT3678 – extension of factory including 3 storey office block
MIT3755 – lavatory and cloakroom block
MIT3760 – liquid oxygen store and meter room
MIT3956 – extension of factory including four storey office block
MIT3956B – lift and staircase block
MIT4216 – temporary cycle rack and motor cycle shed
The following applications indicate the year, e.g. MER978/67 was 1967.
MER978/67 – erection of single storey workshop and gantry at rear of factory for use in connection with nuclear and aircraft research
MER645/73 – erection of building to house hydraulic press for use in connection iwth high precision engineering research developing nuclear, atomic aircraft and defence production
MER595/77 – extension to factory (withdrawn 31/12/1977)
No associated documents are available online before the year 2005.